President Obama outlined the “mutual responsibilities” of business and government in a speech today at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he extended his effort to mend ties with the business community.
He promised the government would “help lay the foundation” of economic success by upgrading transportation and communication networks, investing in education and knocking down competitive barriers in the tax code and regulatory system. But he insisted business has its own role to play.
“We have had some pretty strong disagreements,” the president acknowledged at the outset. But he said “we can and we must work together” because “all of us share a deep abiding belief in this country.”
The president can see the headquarters of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce from the White House and joked he was there “in the interest of being more neighborly,” even suggesting that if they’d shared a fruit cake when he first moved in “we would have gotten off to a better start.”
With an improving economy as his backdrop, the president tried to bridge the gap. Despite the weak but weird job numbers out on Friday, economic output is speeding up by almost all other measures. Factory orders, consumer spending, business sentiment, personal income, and net exports are all up.
The chamber, which has used its clout and its large campaign contributions to thwart the president’s agenda, showed signs of openness to improved relations.
In his introduction, Chamber President Tom Donohue said “America works best when we work together” on shared objectives. “First and foremost is the compelling need to strengthen our free enterprise economy, create jobs and put Americans back to work.”
A statement on the Chamber’s website ahead of speech hit the same tone: “The president’s speech will be closely watched as an indication of his commitment to working with the business community to create jobs and a more robust economic recovery.”